Breaking the silence in Syria

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Nachawati says she has the painful impression that when people talk and write about Syrian suffering it is with less anger and less of a sense of solidarity than when writing and talking about Iraq or the Palestinians.

[...] “In the beginning we all thought a revolution won't happen in Syria, so we were so excited when people started going into the streets …. and the way the regime treated – killing children – it made people realize 'Oh God, whose hands we are in', because after so many years they were desensitized and numb – they looked at the funerals and they realized they are in the hands of real criminals,” she says.

Now, she asks, if they aren’t afraid, why should she be? “They broke this huge wall of silence, now they can get killed any moment in a random way, so I am not helping them by keeping silent,” she says.

For tourists, Nachawati says, Syria seemed to be booming in 2010, with many people getting rich very fast and rapid privatization that left a large majority of the population economically vulnerable. “But it created a comfortable bourgeois middle class in certain places that left a good impression on foreigners, with the hijab and short skirts that were seen in the streets – it was a good scene for tourists. Still, you have to bribe officials to open a bookstore, a little shop. Only when you lived inside you could see how rotten and ugly it was.” Nachawati says.

[...] The weapons embargo, Nachawati says, harmed only the legitimate rebels (the Free Syrian Army). But never mind the weapons, she told her audience at the conference. Europe must increase its civilian assistance to the unarmed rebels. And Poland, she said, could contribute from its rich experience after World War II in rehabilitating and rebuilding, using ruins and rubble. A worthy suggestion, whose implementation seems very far off indeed.